Monday, August 3, 2009

What's a Good Way to Say this? Our Local Arts Coverage is...Changing.

I imply in this post that our arts coverage is going to diminish in the future, but we honestly don't really know what's in our future. I should know better than to make such pronouncements, having been on the receiving end of many when Schwartz closed and I announced the start of Boswell Books.


Well, we had our last column from Geeta Sharma-Jensen as the book editor of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Over the last ten years, she's been a friend to both the book and the bookstore, opening our eyes to new authors and highlighting many upcoming events, both at Harry W. Schwartz, and for the last three months, at Boswell Book Company.

We know the problem of course. It's that I can link you to all the stories about Sharma-Jensen leaving, as well as Tom Strini and Damien Jacques, our classical music/dance, and theater columnist/reporters, both at the Journal Sentinel, and wherever they appear, for example at the Business Journal Serving Greater Milwaukee. Or maybe you read the article on this Wisconsin Arts Board headline collector.

(I wanted to find an amateur blog already commenting on the news, but I couldn't find one...yet. So the next person who effectively writes pretty much what I'm saying might wind up linking to me--who knows?)

It's tough on the bookshop, both since we're sort of partners in a changing industry. Many of customers do use old media, where will they get much of their book information, like the fellow last week; he asked for us to reserve just about all of the titles Sharma-Jensen's column highlighted as big books for fall. (note: I cleaned up this sentence from when it was first posted! My proofreader budget is very thin. Sorry.)

We've got assurances that all these folks will still be contributing to their areas of specialty, and it's absolutely true that many larger papers (the Chicago Tribune comes to mind) have cut faster and harder. Read more in Mary Louise Schumacher's column. For the last month or so, the Journal Sentinel's book coverage has actually seemed larger than the Tribune's, and by burying their section in Saturday, they've effectively said "Try and find me."

Less book coverage in our local paper--just another exciting angle we have to deal with as we build the store and try to get authors added to tour schedules. On the other hand, it's happening everywhere else as well.

Anyway, of course we'll be hearing from Geeta and the others in the future; it still feels like a situation where I say, "Goodbye for now, and thank you."

Here's Lake Effect's recent interview on Douglas McLennan on the future of arts coverage.

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